The Boston Strangler film which recently debuted on Hulu dives deeper into the case surrounding the infamous serial killings than ever before. This film, directed by Matt Ruskin, focuses less on the identity of the killer and more on the little known story behind the case. Jean Cole and Loretta McLaughlin, played by Carrie Coon and Keira Knightley, were two reporters from The Record American who searched for the truth about the string of horrific 1960s murders. The award-winning actresses recently spoke about the importance film and the brave women whose story it tells. For many, this will be the first time their story will be heard.
“That was the most shocking part of it for me, that these women were so integral to breaking the case and to forcing the police departments to share information,” said Coon. ”And their names are never mentioned in association with it. That was really shocking to me.” Even after all their efforts and putting themselves at risk they rarely receive the proper respect, “They’ve largely sort of been erased from the history of this case,” added Knightley.
The biggest challenge the journalists faced was not case itself but rather the institutionalized sexism that stood in their way at every turn. It was their willingness to stand up to the unfair treatment on behalf of the good of others which inspired Knightley to take this role. “This whole film is really a love song to female investigative journalists. And really highlights how important it is to have women in position of power in storytelling because it was these two women that really went, “This is an important story. This is information that needs to be in the public in order to keep women of Boston safe.”
According to Coon the stories of how these women became journalists were very compelling and moving stories which she connected to on a personal level. “They certainly echoed the lives of the women in my world who grew up in the Midwest. My mother was a nurse. One of my grandmothers was a teacher, and the other was a homemaker. And those were the opportunities available to women aside from secretary,” recalled Coon. “So Jean’s fight to become a journalist at all was very moving to me.”
Knightley was moved by Loretta McLaughlin’s relentless work and how it connects with those who have seen the film on so many levels. “It was her tenacity that I found most inspiring, you know. I’ve been speaking to quite a few women who’ve seen the film, and this word keeps coming up, which I find fascinating, which is it was “cathartic” to watch it,” said Knightley. “All of the things that she came up against, whether it’s the male dominated workplace or desperately trying to have a home life and a job and trying to raise children at the same point as trying to get justice for these women.”
Looking back at these women and the massive hurdles they faced serves as a lesson for all going forward. “There is a story built in that is about female allyship. There’s the broader story that these were the women who warned the women of Boston that there was a danger to them and cautioned them on how to protect themselves, which is not the story that we often tell.”
Boston Strangler is now streaming on Hulu.